Are you where you want to be?


Musings: Like A Child

Sometimes I have to give myself permission to play.  I think it is important for the soul, for the heart, for the mind, and for the body to simply have fun.  Especially once we have reached the lofty maturity of adulthood!  We take on more and more responsibility.  Our lives get busier with duties.  We begin to wear ourselves down before our time.

So once in a while I decide to do something quite childlike that requires no special thought.  Dare I say – I even allow myself to “get silly” and giggle and not act one iota like an adult.  There’s no better time to do this than during the Holiday Season.  There are so many fun kid-oriented activities to choose from starting with getting dressed up for Halloween and ending up with a visit to Santa.

And so it was, that about ten days ago I found myself in the company of two intrepid child-wannabee girlfriends heading down to St. Augustine.  We picked up my daughter who had decided to brave the company of three mature ladies on their quest for childish fun.  While trolling the internet, I had come across a link advertising a large 9-acre corn maze and the promise of a hayride included.  I have always wanted to do a hayride and the idea of the corn maze made me think of the movie “Field Of Dreams” and had me shivering in anticipation.

The corn maze was located on the Sykes and Cooper Farm in Elkton, which is a few miles south west on CR 207 just outside St. Augustine.  We parked the car and walked over to the ticket booth to pay our entry fees.  It’s times like this that I really don’t mind being a senior because I got a two dollar discountSmile.  They had a few farm animals on display including a sweet donkey, a huge round-bellied fat pig that the toddlers found fascinating, and a small collection of hens.  As we finished checking out the hens we realized the big tractor trailer for the hayride was right there and almost empty, so we decided to do that next.

Once we had all got ourselves settled on bales of hay, Farmer Cooper fired up the engine and off we chugged around a large field.  There were myriads of gnats in the air but for the most part they didn’t bother us.  As we swung around the other side of the field we began to see pumpkins growing on their mounds.  I noticed that many of them had a layer of what looked like heavy duty foil laid on the ground around them.  I learned that this was to prevent the pumpkins from going moldy on the ground.  Some of the pumpkins were humongous!

We jumped off the hayride and made a beeline for the maze.  It really was huge and quite intimidating as we entered.  The corn (or sorghum) was way above our heads and the paths twisted and turned, ran into each other, went in circles, and did everything else to turn us in the wrong direction.  We could hear children’s voices and their shrieks of laughter coming from various directions as they obviously found themselves back at the same spot again and again. 

I guess we spent a good half an hour in the maze as we tried to find our way out.  Even though we were “acting like children”, the adult in us was aware that we should keep the sounds of the highway to our left, so we didn’t have too much difficulty.  I do remember thinking at one point “supposing a ghost just appeared through the corn”, or “what would I do if I stuck my hand into the corn and it (my hand) disappeared”!!  Woo-woo!  Coming out from the maze we wandered over to the pumpkin stand and bought some miniature pumpkins to use as fall decorations. 

By this time we were hungry and decided to head back into St. Augustine to have dinner.  On many of my visits to St. Augustine I have passed a small colorful restaurant called “La Cocina Mexican Restaurant” on US-1 and have wanted to try it.  We all agreed, Mexican it would be.  What a great dinner we had.  The service was excellent and the food was “uber” excellent.  What I didn’t expect was the superb presentation, almost like a top class eatery. The restaurant itself was delightfully decorated with beautiful murals.  Definitely worth another visit and I highly recommend it!

What a fun evening we had.  Can’t wait to be a child again!    

Self Nurturing: Reading and Writing

I may not have written much in the last couple of months, but words have still been the centre of my life.  They were not running off my fingertips through the computer but they were certainly filling my heart, soul, and mind.  In the absence of writing I have been doing a lot of reading.

It’s as though words in some way, shape, or form have to be in my life.  I love seeing them printed or written across the page.  It fascinates me to think about what the words hold.  It could be information about an object, a machine say, or it could be the description of a place. 

Words have the power to fire our imagination.  They can transport us to some magical landscape where we can "escape” for a few hours as we read. They can describe a character so that we think we can see them, smell them, hear them as they speak.  The author Morris West (In The Shoes Of The Fisherman) has an incredible gift for this last talent, and this was what drew me to read all of his books.

In the latter part of 2009 I was introduced to the author Robert B. Parker. His style of writing attracted me immediately.  He wrote a couple of series of books with different central characters; the Spenser novels, the Jesse Stone novels, and the Sunny Randall novels.  They are all of the detective genre.

He used a short sharp yet easy flowing style of writing, especially when it came to conversations between people.  Some of his sentences are just two words long!  Yet everything is perfect in the moment.  And he uses a form of dry, wry wit that appeals to my English sense of humour.

Over a period of about three months I think I read everything he wrote.  Back in January 2010 I was devouring his last three or four books from the library shelf when I heard the news of his death.  I remember my immediate thought was “Oh no, what will I read now!” as if he were the only writer producing books.

But he had very quickly become “my Robert B. Parker (RBP)”.  He had entered my heart and my soul through his generously-shared talent.  I thought of him as a friend who set out to entertain me with each of his books.  The only positive thing that I can say about his passing is that he died at his typewriter doing what he loved most.

So having completed all his books I then had to find someone else.  I love detective/spy books so I stayed in that genre.  Checking along the shelves in the library I remember thinking, “I need to find a prolific author; someone who has as many books on the shelf as “my RBP”.  And so Sue Grafton found her way into my book bag.

Her A,B,C books based on the character Kinsey Millhone are great.  Her style is different yet just as interesting as RBP.  Kinsey is a little off-beat, a little off-centre, and as a woman detective is just finding her way around the profession.  I guess what attracts me to her is that there is a part of her that is organized and yet there is another great chunk of her that is delightfully, quirkily “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants”. 

Her well-preserved and still very attractive octogenarian neighbour Henry and his other “just as old if not older” siblings add some unique interest to the story.  But the spice is added, literally, by Rosie, of Hungarian origins, who runs a small restaurant/grill/bar down the road from Kinsey’s home.  I can almost hear her speaking in her broken accent and can imagine the expressions on her face and in her voice the way Sue Grafton describes her.

So here I am having read the latest, U Is For Umbrella, and wondering who will be the next author that my eyes fall upon, that my nose smells out.  One thing is for sure, I will not be without words in some way or another.  They feed my soul and my mind.  I will not go hungry!

Taking Care of Spirit, Body, and Mind

We are very special beings. We have been created by Spirit – the Supreme Being who has created all. Some people refer to this Supreme Being as God, others as The Great White Spirit, yet others as Allah, or simply Creator. There are many names given to this one Being who brought the whole universe into manifestation.

Because we have been created by Spirit we are spiritual beings, carrying at our core the very imprint, the essence of our Creator. We call this core our soul. It is that intimate, sacred part of ourselves that we cannot actually see but without which we would not exist. It is that intimate and sacred part of us which cannot be touched. Our bodies may be beaten and broken, but no one can touch our soul.

As human beings we are pretty much aware of our bodies. And if we aren’t, today’s media certainly makes us very aware of them. At worst, the media tries to make us conform our bodies to the image that various money-making corporate businesses try to impose on us. Many of them succeed. At best, the media encourages us in various ways, some good, some bad, to take care of our bodies, reminding us that we only have the one body which has to last us a lifetime.

The human mind is that which truly sets us apart from all the other creatures that inhabit this planet. With our minds we have the power of choice. We are able to make decisions to be good or bad, to be kind or mean, to be truthful or dishonest, to be respectful of others or not. Our minds can be constantly expanded through education and experience so that we can reach our full potential as human beings.

To be a positive, fully functioning human being we need to take care of all three areas of our humanity. The question is, how? There are many answers to this and I will attempt to offer but a few from my own personal experience. One thing I have learned is that it is important to continue to take care of myself on all three levels all of the time. In other words there has to be equilibrium in my striving to be the best person I can be. I have also discovered that I am not yet capable of doing this perfectly, and probably never will be in this life.

The operative word here is striving. As long as I continue, on a daily basis, to make my best effort, to put one foot in front of the other, then I am doing OK. Let me share with you here some of the things that I do in order to take care of my Spirit, my Body, and my Mind.

– Spiritually I make quiet time for prayer and meditation, I read books that invite me to grow spiritually, I cultivate friends who are on a spiritual path and spend time in discussion with them, and I belong to a faith-based community for formal worship in a church setting. All this I do to enhance and increase the relationship that I have established with the God of my understanding.

– On the physical level I try to take care of my body in many ways. The obvious ones are good nutrition in the form of healthy, balanced meals and plenty of water, and some form of exercise to maintain flexibility, strength and balance. One important factor for me regarding exercise is that it must be something that I truly enjoy and I need to have some variety so I don’t get bored and consequently quit. Going the extra mile for my body, I try to incorporate such things as receiving massage or Reiki on a regular basis. I take long hot baths with special oils and salts, and I apply wonderful moisturizing lotion to my skin often. I also feel so good after a visit to my hairdresser and, Oh the bliss of a pedicure or manicure!!

– Mentally I stimulate my mind by reading good books: not just “educational” books but wonderful novels too that give me great pleasure. Personally I choose to go to a museum or art gallery from time to time and I just love watching a good play or musical, especially comedy, or listening to a concert. Hobbies are wonderful excuses for stimulating the brain and helping to keep us mentally alive and active, and there are so many to choose from. And let’s not forget good conversation which is where some of those friends that I mentioned earlier come in useful. Besides, isolation is a slow killer while good company is better than a daily multi-vitamin.

Above all, be gentle and patient with yourself. You are on a journey. Take time to appreciate the scenery and make frequent stops along the way to enjoy majestic moments, to explore avenues of interest in your life, or just to take a rest. And let me encourage you to be aware that this is your life and you have a right to be happy. But happiness does not just drop out of the sky. Like most things that are worthwhile, it needs to be worked towards. If we are optimally healthy and happy, we will be so much more capable of dealing with anything that life throws us – in an appropriate manner. Persevere, the end result is joy!!